Category Archive: Comic Review

Mar 02 2015

The Punisher (vol 8): Widowmaker – Garth Ennis

I liked this collection about the vigilante, The Punisher, better than most. Probably because Ennis had to work with his secondary characters to make them have motive and personality to explain why one group of women are getting together to take out The Punisher, another woman who appears to be crazy is tailing them, and a cop who should be a hero is caught up in the middle of it. Still, typical Ennis Punisher stories have to have the following: black people speaking Ebonics, women have to be almost exclusively crazy and/or slutty, rape victims, most of the backstory has to be given in exposition, and there must be a major body count. 

Feb 28 2015

The Spectre: Tales of the Unexpected – David Lapham

A former cop is now the human inhabitant of the spirit of vengeance, The Specter, and is tasked in Gotham city to kill various people involved in a gruesome murder. I just made this comic sound much better than it was. It was very short and I still did not enjoy it. 

 

Feb 27 2015

John Constantine, Hellblazer: Papa Midnite – Mat Johnson

What a long title for a book that didn’t do what it should have. It is a great idea to tell the 1700’s origin of the Voodoo hood, Papa Midnite, and to learn about his powers and immortality, within a historical context. However, I am uncertain if the NY slave uprisings Johnson writes about have a factual basis (and I need to feel it in the text, not by looking it up), but more to the point the story itself was all over the place, never painting a full picture or truly providing depth of character. 

Feb 24 2015

Luke Cage: Noir – Mike Benson & Adam Glass

Luke Cake, AKA Power Man, the man with steel skin, gets out of prison just in time to investigate the murder of a white woman in Harem during Prohibition. I enjoyed this noir tale of Power Man, and agree with Cory that it is the best of the series, even if I thought there were a few points where the story slipped (eg you can’t dent a metal door by pulling a man’s face into it by his nose, the nose would rip off first). 

Feb 16 2015

Adventures in Cartooning – James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, & Alexis Frederick-Frost

Cej got this book for me some time ago with the hopes that it will help me learn to draw. And for anyone else it probably would. It tells a cute little story about a knight fighting a dragon while a magical elf explains the fruitfulness of comics as a story telling method as well as giving ideas on how to draw and create comics. 

Feb 14 2015

The Punisher (vol 7): Man of Stone – Garth Ennis

The Punisher goes to Afghanistan for no real reason and is hunted by a Soviet war criminal general for no real reason. In the center of it all is a crazy, corrupt, ex-CIA guy and his crazy ex-wife (both from prior collections). The thing that’s getting to me is this: why? In Marvel’s world, the heroes are 5-10 years from their inciting incident, but the vigilante, Castle, has been killing criminals for 30–which makes him easily in his 50s. Yet reading Ennis’s collections I do not get any true motive. His family is long dead, and he’s killed their killers, and killed several thousand other killers (and The Avengers are where?), but he does not seem to care about people at all. The whole “I don’t want to get close to anyone again because I’m too big a baby to risk getting hurt again” just doesn’t hold. This title needs to be more than violence.

Feb 08 2015

The Annihilation event: Nova: Knowhere – Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning

Ok, I lied. I’m not going to finish writing about the entirety of the Annihilation saga for several reasons: It was actually only 3 books and then it just turned into referencing the event, what started as several writers turned into just the works of  Abnett and Lanning, and finally I just don’t care about the characters and plot anymore. The whole Borg, sorry, Phalanx story isn’t doing anything for me. Listen, you’re dealing with a plague that is effecting a dick race in a different galaxy and involving characters most people wrote out of the Marvel universe because no one cared about them. How did you think this was a great idea? Honestly, I have a hard enough time caring about events on this planet that aren’t going to influence my life, so in the comic world…. You really need to make it more compelling or exciting.

This specific tale starts out all right as Nova is in a giant robot head at the end of the universe and has to team up with a Russian telepathic dog to fight some unknown force. See, that can sell me. But as soon as it’s back to fighting the Phalanx I fall asleep. If the rest of the Annihilation event stories are any good, please let me know and maybe I’ll try again, but there are 4 more and I just don’t have the energy. 

Feb 06 2015

Age of Ultron – Brian Michael Bendis

I really just assumed I would hate this series, to the point that I wasn’t even sure why I read it, but the truth is I did enjoy this. No, don’t think the book is any good: the plot about the robot, Ultron, destroying the world is meaningless (what? You thought the Marvel Universe would end with this comic?), there isn’t much in terms of character development, and the writing isn’t anything special–but thank goodness the typical Bendis pages of monologues are missing, and yet there was something simply fun about an end of the world story. More to the point, I really believe–and this is something I never seem to say–that the book should be longer. If the book was twice the length, Bendis could have added some stories about how various characters dealt with the end of the world and being hunted by Ultron (because scenes with Ultron are actually very few), which would at least make for interesting story arcs even if they would eventually mean nothing. Maybe hearing about how crappy this series was helped me actually not hate it. PS Bendis, certain characters with healing powers can’t be killed by being stabbed, just for the record.

Feb 05 2015

Hawkeye & Mockingbird / Black Widow: Widowmaker – Jim McCann & Duane Swierczynski

Maybe it is because two writers worked on this that I constantly felt that entire panels where missing making the plot, not confusing, but unsatisfying. Someone is killing off spies so our spies: the deadly former Russian agent, Black Widow; The archer, Hawkeye; and the…er what is her thing?, Mockingbird have to save the day. Not very interesting. 

Feb 04 2015

The Silence of Our Friends – Mark Long & Jim Demonakos

Cej did a review of this comic here, and does a fine job of it, so I don’t want to go over the same points too much. Like Cej, I felt the ending was rushed and Nate Powell’s work is better here then other places I’ve seen.  I will say that I picked up on the blind character earlier even if not right away and didn’t feel that Long (the father character, not the author) struggled so much with telling the truth as much as trying to get someone to listen. In any event, you should read this very fine comic to see if you agree with one, both, or none of our takes on the work as it is an insightful piece of history.  

Feb 03 2015

March: Book One – Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, & Nate Powell

The Georgian Democrat recounts his personal involvement with the civil right’s movement in this first of three installments. The story is definitely interesting and inspiring as to how a poor black boy could rise above the injustice around him and help pave the way for greater freedom and inclusion for more Americans. He is truly a great American. I will criticize that I would rather read an account of the movement in general rather than “Bob” Lewis’s bio and, as I seem to always complain about, I found it more of an illustrated account when I would rather see a comic. 

Jan 30 2015

Thoreau at Walden – John Porcellino

Using the words of Henry David Thoreau, Porcellino provides extremely simple (and very elegant and appropriate) art, to tell some of the highlights of Walden Pond. I have to say that I am NOT a fan of Thoreau, but I am a fan of comics and this series by the Center for Cartoon Studies has had some great stuff. I’m not going to claim that this work has sold me on HDT, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as interested in his work as this comic has made me. Much better to use this as an intro to the author than anything my high school did, but then again, my high school English teacher failed every exam I took, possibly because I brought up that Thoreau used to send his laundry home for his mom to clean (something also left out here).

Jan 28 2015

The Annihilation event: Annihilation: Conquest Book One

Picking up slightly before the Nova book ends, the reader is presented with a Dirty Dozen/Suicide Squad set up in order to free the Kree from a mechanical infection. The focus is on the former superhero Star-Lord, present day normal human Peter Quill, who was instrumental in helping to resist Annihilus, but is suffering horrible guilt over his time as a superhero, which his war experience apparently wasn’t enough to errase. His team is made up of some of the dumbest characters you have totally forgotten about if you even ever heard of them and they are made awesome! Unfortunately, there is also a section about Quasar/Captain Marvel and her girlfriend Moondragon and something about going to see Yoda and train to avoid the dark side of the force…ok maybe not exactly, although I was too bored to figure out what was actually happening, and when Quasar is fighting the Amazo rip-off and riding a dragon into battle to find Kree Jesus–whatever. 

Jan 23 2015

The Annihilation event: Nova (vol 1): Annihilation – Conquest

More on the aftermath of the Annihilation Wave (and it will get to the point that we will have more for the after than the during, which is disappointing). The last surviver of the galactic police force tries to deal with picking up the pieces and getting back to policing, but he is one and the backlog of problems that were ignored during wartime are many. Having a bit of a breakdown, Nova goes back to Earth only to learn that petty squabbles are all that occupies people (ie The Civil War). This is a rather good story dealing with PTS and the reality that once you have seen terrible things you have a very difficult time deling with the stupidity that others feel are important. This is also a fun dig at the fact that Marvel does some very stupid things that they pretend are important. Sadly, the second part isn’t very interesting to me as–for all practical purposes–the Borg are taking over the Kree and want Nova too. I couldn’t get into it. PS If a character has a scar–especially if you talk about it in the comic–be sure to draw it

Jan 17 2015

Injustice: Gods Among Us (vol 1) – Tom Taylor

Apparently, this is the story that leads up to the game (except that there are characters in the game that are dead in the comic, so go figure). The basic plot is that a super villain event triggers super extreme reactions among the super hero community and chaos ensues. It is a rather typical “dark” storyline wherein the heroes take over in the name of justice–which is just as typically flawed, but that never stops people from writing/reading them. The bottom line is that the story isn’t bad and there are some fun parts (e.g., the interaction between Green Arrow and Harely Quinn), but there is nothing that is new here. 

Jan 16 2015

The Annihilation event: Annihilation Book Three

Why did Paul get the hard cover of this trade? Regardless, I glad he lent it to me. This collection is set up the opposite of the first two in that it starts out very strong before it gets boring. From the very beginning we are deep in the Annihilation Wave as various races and beings (mainly Kree) are attempting to slow the destruction of Annihilus and his Negative Zone troops (if you didn’t know this by now, it’s because you aren’t going to be reading the series. Besides, just look at the cover.). It is very action packed and exciting; however, the second half of the book was far too rushed, unbelievable (based on earlier events, not because I believe in this type of sci-fi), and left an unsatisfying “conclusion” turning the second half of the book into mediocre aftermath tales. The idea that the Negative Zone is invading because they actually feel they are being destroyed by our universe (well, some of them do) is a great angle and not utilized. Also, if cosmic energy is part of Annihilus’s plan, how come he didn’t have a means of using it on his own? Seems like a major invasion flaw to allow for a lucky alliance to fill in the gap for the key part of your objective. Then again, how many wars did we fight of late where we seemed to be missing vital strategic elements?

Jan 15 2015

Crater XV – Kevin Cannon

It seems I never reviewed Far Arden (something that (I hope) will be rectified before you see this), which is s shame as I enjoyed that short (in stature) but thick, comic. As with the first book, this sequel should not be misunderstood. Just because it has cute art–with stage directions as sound effects–and is about a larger than life, heavy drinking, hard fighting, heroic Canadian orphan (who was both a government man and a pirate), does not mean that Cannon is attempting to tell some sort of feel good story. The plot, which is intricate, involving various faux Canadian government agencies that maneuver with foreign powers, space quests, piracy, lost loves, coming to terms with your past/future/destiny/choices/mistakes, and a whole lot of fighting. It’s a bittersweet tale, much like the last one, and I enjoyed it. 

Jan 13 2015

The Silver Six – AJ Lieberman

For a kid’s story, it starts with the murder of a bunch of families by a corrupt energy company. Eventually, Phoebe, her robot pal, and 5 other orphans band together to discover the truth behind what happened and fight to set things right. It’s not a bad story, although because it is for kids there isn’t a whole lot done in terms of characterization other than the smart guy wears glasses and the the brown kid is brown (Darren Rawlings’ art is a great deal of awesome, though). I do like the empowering nature of the tale and it has a couple of minor twists to help it along. 

Jan 12 2015

The Plain Janes – Cecil Castellucci

I loved this comic! Well, until it just randomly stopped. It’s a great story about a girl that is moved out of the city after a bombing which puts a boy into a coma. She reinvents herself and joins up with a group of outcast girls, all named Jane, and forms a group dedicated to spreading random acts of art: PLAIN-People Loving Art In Neighborhoods (a group I would love to serve if it only could exist). Lots of interesting characters and solid writing. However, the comic just comes to an end, perhaps with the idea of another or continuing issues, but I realize that Minx comics is an imprint of DC, apparently trying to cash in on the girl market that they have shunned for so long, so I guess it is as dead as all the other titles I read from Minx. Pity, the world is small for it.

Jan 11 2015

Friends With Boys – Faith Erin Hicks

I first, knowingly, heard of Hicks by reading a short work of her’s in an Adventure Time comic, which wasn’t anything super special, but I did enjoy this, longer, work. It focuses on Maggie, who, after being home schooled like her three older brothers, is off to high school and all the horrors that it involves. There she, for the first time, has the opportunity to make friends and see the social chaos that is public school, made all the more difficult due her mother’s unexplained leaving. Although I like the art, does everyone in high school have to be beautiful? I never met a beautiful high schooler. It is a fun story and I suspect there is room–but uncertain about the will–for a sequel, that I would like to see. Oh! Did I mention that Maggie is haunted? 

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